Young women are being left behind when it comes to careers in technology, according to a report by Tech City UK.
The research, which looked at the career aspirations of young people and analysed 80,000 posts on Reddit, found that technology was top of men’s professional wishlist. Females, however, are being left behind due to a perceived lack of skills or self-belief.
To put this in context, the report found that just 13% of women said they aspired to work in the industry, compared to more than a third (36%) of males who said the same thing.
Additionally, 45% of females surveyed said they lacked the skills to work in technology. Some 38% said “they lacked knowledge about technology” and 24% claimed it was “not for people like them”.
In stark contrast, 50% of young men said they would reject a career in technology because “other areas are more appealing”.
The gender gap widens further when analysing responses from 15-16 year olds. Of those who want to work in tech, the vast majority (74%) from that age cohort are male, and just 21% are female.
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Survey respondents who work in technology were asked to describe the benefits of doing so. A majority (55%) said the ‘fast moving and exciting nature of the tech sector’ was appealing, 54% spoke about the ‘interesting jobs’ available, 50% mentioned the ‘good pay’ and the interest simulated by ‘large tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google’ drew in 45% of participants.
Young people from the UK are lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of their tech career aspirations – with technology being only the fifth most mentioned career across the whole of Reddit.
When looking at UK respondents, technology drops to sixth place, in terms of mentions, ranking lower than “financials”, “energy”, industrials”, “cyclical consumer goods and services” and healthcare.
Dr George Windsor, senior insights manager at Tech City UK, commented on the findings: “It is heartening to see that technology remains a popular career choice for many young people. If our digital ecosystem is to thrive, it needs to engage the best and brightest minds of the next generation. This is why it is so concerning that technology is failing to attract young women.”
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He then went on to highlight the lack of diversity across the sector, calling for action to engage more women with the industry.
“Diversity is crucial if we are to build world-beating technologies that can improve people’s lives. It is clear that more must be done, both by the technology industry, and in schools, to show young women that they are more than capable of excelling in this industry.
“This needs to start at primary school; by age 15, girls already doubt their abilities, and are discounting technology as a career. But there is hope. As the technology industry itself becomes more diverse, attracting more female entrepreneurs, coders, engineers, and investors, there are more and more role models for young women to aspire to.
“Tech City UK was created to help raise the profile of technology, foster new talent, and support the UK’s digital ecosystem, and we will continue to work tirelessly to engage young people. But we must all work together to accelerate the pace of change,” he concluded.